Following on from the success of one of our previous posts, How to Start Learning Artificial Intelligence, we want to introduce our readers to learning another topic – How to learn to code for free.
Although more basic than learning how to build AI, learning how to code is a vital step in any development process.
What is Coding and Why is it Worth Learning?
Computer programming – or coding – is present wherever a computer is. This could obviously be your laptop or your phone, but also many everyday items, like microwaves and cars. Coding is the set of instructions for a computer to follow to carry out a task.
Moreover, as the digital world continues to expand and consume our day to day lives, it’s no wonder that more and more people are interested in being able to better understand and even build computerised creations for themselves. And with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, which is now becoming a part of many businesses working lives, being able to read code is becoming a highly valuable asset or necessity for many.
Not to mention, even if you don’t want to become a developer, many jobs now specify an understanding of code as a highly desirable skill when hiring people. Especially if the role involves communicating with developers, such as a graphic design job. Having even just a basic understanding of programming can progress you in your career, and make you seem very attractive to potential employers.
How Should You Learn to Code?
Know Which Language You Want to Learn
Just like people can speak different languages, so can computers. These languages all have a common goal, to make a computer do something and to give you – the user – a good experience.
However, each language does this in a different way, to serve a different purpose. That being said, there are quite a few programming languages that are general purpose and seem to crop up in every circle of software development.
The good news is, you don’t need to learn all of the different languages to become a competent programmer, or even to make a career in the field. Just learn the code that best meets your needs.
And like a spoken language, each language is pretty unique. You might find certain principles or patterns that carry across several, but generally, they are separate.
Some of the most common programming languages are:
Some languages are used for specific fields. For example, Swift is only used in iOS development. Meanwhile, Ruby is a very common language for web application development.
If you want to learn a good all-round language, I suggest Python. It’s even being used in AI as well as app development. It is also a very beginner-friendly language, as the syntax is simplified. Learning Python can be fun, and has huge potential for what you can do with it.
Read up on the different languages and which is best for the discipline you want to practice, or whichever is most appropriate for you. Then, try out some of the learning methods and resources listed below.
Learn to Code Online
Once you have picked the language you want to learn, you’ll want to find some great online resources to help you learn the fundamentals. There are loads of resources online to teach you, not to mention, many of them allow you to learn to code for free.
Codecademy is an amazing site that has helped millions of people learn to code. They make it easy to navigate your options and learn what you need to reach your goals. You can also put your learning into practice right away, writing working code that’s reviewed as soon as it’s submitted.
Currently, amid the Coronavirus pandemic, Codeacademy are raising funds to give pro membership to workers whose lives have been affected by the crisis. For every pro account purchased, they donate five more.
EdX has hundreds of courses on its site, including a number of free ones. Although if you want to add a certificate of completion, you will have to pay a small fee for it. Just search ‘coding’ and dozens of verified courses will present themselves. From an “Introduction to Java Programming” to “Advanced CSS Concepts”. The range of subjects and levels would suit anyone learning something new, or looking to finesse and hone their existing skills to become a better developer.
FreeCodeCamp lets you learn to code for free, with the ability to test and use your learning on real-world problems. The code you create becomes available for non-profits to use, helping to solve real problems and giving valuable experience to any novice coder. Not to mention, it’s a rewarding way to learn, and a huge boon to be able to learn such a valuable skill for free.
Learn to Code Using Mobile Apps
There are also many apps available to teach you a programming language, and the majority of them will help you learn to code for free.
Applications such as the “Learn” series by Sololearn Inc. have a separate app for each popular programming language, and they make learning engaging and accessible on your mobile. It also has fun challenges for you to complete and compete against other learners, giving a bit of gamification and competition to encourage you to sharpen your skills. So if there is a specific language you want to learn, these apps are ideal.
Another great app to help make learning to code a small part of your everyday routine is Mimo. It looks and interacts a lot like Duolingo, but for learning a coding language. It fits lessons into easily digestible chunks and encourages you to take a little time out of every day to learn and practice.
Better still, all of these apps are free to download. Although, Mimo offers some in-app purchases.
Steps to Help You Learn and Understand Code
As with anything, practice makes perfect and is the key to understanding code.
Read code as often as you can, and try to tackle at least a line a day and you will quickly begin to develop. That being said, there a few ways you can bolster your learning and to try and make it sink in faster.
Here are a few tips on how to maximise your learning and ensure you don’t forget it.
Be Practical and Learn by Doing
Reading code and completing exercises will help, but with code, the best way to learn is to do. That’s why sites like FreeCodeCamp are exceptional learning resources. Tackling practical programming will shift you into the mind of a problem-solver and a developer.
Playing with code is key to understanding how it works in practice and the best way of remembering syntax. Like a spoken language, if you aren’t regularly using it, your knowledge will deteriorate.
So while you are learning, pick up a personal project and start tinkering away with code as soon as you can. As soon as you learn a new principle, work on it in practice. You will remember it better and have a deeper understanding of it.
Do it by Hand
Coding by hand is an important skill to cultivate, and a true test of a good developer. Because of this, it’s usually a part of many job interviews for a development role. The arguments behind maintaining the practice are varied, and all very valid.
Coding by hand forces you to focus on the intent of every line you write and urges you to hone in on the details and to continually write cleaner code, as you don’t want to be typing for longer than needed or to be repeating yourself.
Having any digital skill is a valuable asset in the modern world. Coding is perhaps the most valuable knowledge available, as it is so highly sought after in a variety of roles, not just within software development. It’s perhaps the most lucrative skill you can learn online or for free.
There is also a shortage of software developers and a high demand for them. So, if you are considering a change of career, coding and software development could be a great move. (But you will need plenty of experience and projects under your belt, as well as at least one coding language you’ve mastered.)
Additionally, coding is now a part of the national curriculum. Learning to code yourself could be a great way to not only expand your own skillset but to also be able to help your children with their homework.
Alternatively, you might just want to learn a new skill or simply to have a better understanding of how computers work and satisfy your curiosity. As the world around us moves further into digital realms and highly technical movements like AI and VR make their way into our homes, it can seem increasingly important and interesting to understand how they work.
Whether you are curious or looking for a new career, coding is a highly valuable and useful practice.
Learning to code is a highly-rewarding skill in the practical sense too. You will better your problem-solving abilities and help keep your brain active, even if you don’t have a specific use for it. However, it also happens to be highly desirable knowledge that you can leverage into a great career.
With so much on offer to help you learn to code for free and anywhere you are, there is little reason not to try it. Why not download one of the apps and get started?
If you’re learning to code in the hopes of fixing an IT problem, there is a far easier and quicker option in the meantime. IT Enterprise can help with all your IT consultancy needs.
Give us a call or email us today, and let us help you tackle that pesky programming.Tags: coding, coding languages, how to code, learn to code, programming, software development